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by ARLnow.com — May 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm 0

Arlington logoArlington has launched a new hotline for its employees to report fraud, waste and abuse in county government.

The hotline was announced today by outgoing Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan. It will be run by an “experienced third-party provider” and will be “a confidential and secure way” to report suspected financial malfeasance, via phone or a secure website, the county said today.

Employees calling in or logging on to the 24/7 hotline may include their name or remain anonymous when reporting.

“By putting in place whistleblower protection and a fraud, waste, and abuse hotline, we are reinforcing County government’s deep commitment to good and ethical government,” Donnellan said in a press release.

The press release says the hotline is “part of the emphasis [Donnellan] has placed on high ethical standards during her tenure as County Manager.” Each report will be reviewed by a “County Review Committee, composed of staff appointed by the County Manager.”

Employees who do identify themselves in their reports will be protected by a new administrative whistleblower policy, the county said.

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,275 0

View of the Potomac and Roosevelt Island from Rosslyn

Survey Says: Resident Satisfaction High — Resident satisfaction with Arlington County is high, according to Arlington County. The county’s fourth Resident Satisfaction Survey, conducted by an outside research firm, suggested an 89 percent overall satisfaction rate with the quality of county services. “Just two percent of residents were dissatisfied with the overall quality of County services,” said a press release. One notable area for improvement: maintenance of county streets, with a satisfaction level of only 42 percent. [Arlington County]

Peak Memorial Day Traffic Expected Thursday — Contrary to conventional wisdom, the worst Memorial Day holiday traffic in the D.C. area will be Thursday evening, not Friday. According to an analysis of average travel speeds, drivers hoping to escape local holiday traffic should leave at night, around lunchtime Wednesday or Thursday, or Friday morning. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]

Split Board Approves Reeves Farmhouse Sale — The Arlington County Board voted 3-2 last night to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse. “The County worked with the community for six years to find a way to retain public ownership of the house, or to create a public-private partnership to restore the house and open it to the public, but we were unable to achieve such a partnership, and the cost of restoring the property and bringing it up to code for public use was prohibitively expensive,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. Much of the land around the house will remain publicly-owned. [Arlington County]

County to Outsource Volunteer Program — The County Board also last night voted 3-2 to outsource Volunteer Arlington, the county’s volunteer management program. The county will now seek a nonprofit with which to form a public-private partnership. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — May 11, 2015 at 10:15 am 2,259 0

Arlington bunny (Fickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Shirlington Movie Theater to Renovate — The AMC Lowes Shirlington 7 movie theater will be undergoing a “complete renovation” this year, starting as soon as July. The theater will be getting reclining leather seats, like the AMC theater in Courthouse, plus a new concession area with beer and wine and new bathrooms. [Washington Business Journal]

Downed Trees, Wires in Arlington — On Sunday morning a tree fell on Old Dominion Drive, bringing wires down with it, causing power outages and and closing the road for hours. On Sunday night, an accident on Wilson Blvd caused downed wires and the closure of Wilson from N. Illinois to N. Jefferson Street. [WTOP]

Candidates: Lack of Diversity at Top County Ranks — Candidates for Arlington County Board spoke about the lack of diversity among top county staff last week, at a forum sponsored by the African-American Leadership Council of Arlington. The County Board has little direct involvement in the hiring of county staff, save the Board’s hiring of and direction to the County Manager. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Ethan Rothstein — March 26, 2015 at 10:35 am 892 0

Arlington County government's offices at 2100 Clarendon BlvdRepresentatives from 16 different countries will visit Arlington to learn how the county assesses properties for tax purposes.

Arlington’s Dept. of Real Estate Assessments will be giving representatives from countries like China, India, Turkey and Greece “guidance on proper property tax management, including an overview of how Arlington County values land and property, and how these processes have generated revenue, while promoting fair and equitable property tax collection methods,” according to a press release from Thomson Reuters, which organized the meeting.

Thomson Reuters’ Tax & Accounting Division helps corporations and governments improve their bookkeeping and revenue-generating practices. Arlington boasts an enviable tax revenue split of 50 percent residential and 50 percent commercial tax revenue, and the assessor’s office is responsible for determining the value of each piece of property.

“Arlington County’s strong, successful tax management system has attracted the attention of government officials from emerging nations,” Brian Jaklitsch, a spokesman for Thomson Reuters, said in an email.

“Officials will get a first-person look at how a government in the US processes and records land rights, and how the information is then used to assign a land value and then to process and bill property tax,” according to a press release. “More than 70 percent of local government revenue in the US is generated from property tax, and generating similar revenue could be a major coup for countries that are impoverished and/or lacking proper recording channels.”

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — March 6, 2015 at 7:15 am 574 0

Snow clearing operations in Pentagon City(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Schools are closed today, and Arlington County government offices and courts will be opening at 11:00 a.m.

Other county facilities also have delayed openings. Libraries, except for the Plaza library, are hoping open at 1:00 p.m., according to Arlington’s closing and delays page.

The Arlington Mill Community Center will open at 1:00 p.m., while other community centers will open at noon or later, as scheduled, according to the county.

After earlier saying that trash and recycling collection would happen today and Saturday, the county now says it has been cancelled.

Due to hazardous road conditions, all solid waste services have been canceled: brush, cart repair, collection, special collections, etc. We will resume collections on Monday, March 9. Thursday and Friday customers will be serviced on their next collection day. Carts should be removed from the right-of-way. The Customer Call Center will open at 11 a.m.

The federal government, meanwhile, is opening on a two hour delay.

by ARLnow.com — March 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm 7,956 0

Salt truck (file photo)(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) Arlington County has nearly run out of road salt during today’s snow storm.

We hear that county roads crews have been unable to fully treat some treacherous stretches of roadway this afternoon due to the salt shortage, leaving drivers stranded on hills and frustrating police officers trying to reopen roads where there have been accidents.

Jessica Baxter, spokeswoman for the Dept. of Environmental Services, confirmed the salt shortage in an email to ARLnow.com this evening.

It’s been a really rough winter season, not only in our region but across the nation. The County is experiencing end of season low inventory levels of salt. Stock piles from our regional contractor are near depleted. We received mid-season resupply, but it was not enough due to the severity of this winter. We’re doing everything we can to receive additional tons as soon as possible.

Crews are working around the clock and their primary effort will be to plow snow from the streets. We’ll use salt conservatively and supplement with sand.

The problem is apparently impacting some other jurisdictions in the region as well. Additional information from Baxter:

We utilize a regional contract [for salt]. Almost all salt in our region comes from the port of Baltimore. We believe all jurisdictions are working carefully to manage their remaining supply.

Arlington has two salt storage facilities, one north side and one south side. Our maximum capacity is about 8,000 tons. We start the season each year at full capacity and refill during the winter.

About 5-6 inches of snow has fallen on Arlington so far today, with the snowflakes beginning to taper off. The snow has caused numerous accidents, stranded drivers, temporarily blocked roads and even the GW Parkway, and forced businesses to close early.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — February 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm 604 0

Jay Farr (Photo via George Mason University)Arlington Deputy Police Chief Jay Farr will serve as Acting Police Chief starting next month, following the retirement of Chief Doug Scott, according to a memo obtained by ARLnow.com.

Scott announced last month that he would retire effective March 20, after serving as Arlington’s police chief for 12 years. In a memo to police department employees sent Friday, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said Farr will fill in as chief while the county looks for a permanent replacement.

“I know many of you may also be wondering about leadership in the interim, and I am pleased to announce that I am appointing Deputy Police Chief Jay Farr as Acting Police Chief effective March 20, 2015 while we conduct our search,” Donnellan write. “Please continue to support him as you have Chief Scott. This time of transition is an opportunity for us to pull together and continue to work for the good of the community.”

“Thank you for your dedicated work in keeping our citizens safe; you provide a vital service for Arlington County,” Donnellan continued. “I will continue to keep you updated on the police chief recruitment as we continue this process together.”

Farr has served on the Arlington County police force since 1990, according to his LinkedIn page. Prior to working in Arlington, Farr was an NCIS special agent, a Falls Church police officer and a member of the Marine Corps’ presidential helicopter squadron. He is an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University’s Dept. of Criminology, Law and Society.

Farr spent several months away from the police department between 2013 and 2014, serving as an interim deputy county manager after Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier stepped down.

In the memo, Donnellan noted that the county will be “launching a nationwide recruitment for a new police chief in the next few days, and will be looking at both internal and external candidates.”

Photo via George Mason University

by ARLnow.com — February 17, 2015 at 8:15 am 1,502 0

Update at 9:40 a.m. — Limited Metrobus service will start being restored at 10:30 a.m. Buses will operate under a severe snow plan.

The snow has stopped falling and some breaks of blue sky can even be seen above, but the impacts of the overnight snowfall are still being felt.

About 4-5 inches of snow fell on Arlington from Monday afternoon to this morning. Most roads are still snow-covered as county crews continue to treat primary and secondary routes. Neighborhood streets are largely untreated.

As the temperature remains very cold and even treated roads are slippery, VDOT is asking drivers to stay put for now.

“Drivers are urged to delay travel today until at least 10:00 a.m., as Virginia Department of Transportation crews continue working to clear and treat roads in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties,” VDOT said in a statement. “Interstates and major primaries are passable with extreme caution. Other roads were also plowed continuously overnight but still have a layer of snow and ice.”

The National Weather Service says the snow has ended, but is warning of hazardous travel conditions.

THE BULK OF THE PRECIPITATION HAS ENDED THIS MORNING… WITH ONLY LIGHT SNOW EXPECTED TO IMPACT AREAS EAST OF THE I-95 CORRIDOR THROUGH MID MORNING. SLIPPERY CONDITIONS AS A RESULT OF SNOW COVERED ROADS AND TEMPERATURES IN THE TEENS TO 20S WILL LEAD TO HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS TODAY.

IF YOU NEED TO TRAVEL… PLEASE LEAVE SOME EXTRA TIME TO REACH YOUR DESTINATION AND USE CAUTION… ESPECIALLY ON ANY UNTREATED OR SNOW PACKED ROADWAYS.

Arlington announced early this morning that all county government offices, courts and facilities would be closed today. That’s in addition to the closure of county schools and the federal government.

There will be no trash and recycling collection in Arlington today.

“Collection services will resume when County offices reopen and will continue until all trash and recycling is collected,” according to the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services. “Until services resume, remove carts from the right-of-way to allow snow removal crews to clear the roads.”

Metrobus services has been suspended as of 7:30 a.m. Metrorail is running on a Saturday schedule. ART buses are running at “severe service levels.” MetroAccess is suspended Tuesday and Arlington STAR service is suspended except for dialysis rides.

Virginia State Police says troopers in Northern Virginia responded to 121 crashes and 122 disabled vehicles between 4:00 p.m. Monday and 4:00 a.m. Tuesday. A state police patrol car was struck by a car on the Capital Beltway just before 6:00 this morning, sending the trooper to the hospital.

VDOT says HOV restrictions have been lifted on I-66, I-395 and the Dulles Toll Road.

In part due to the low temperature, which prevents salt from melting snow, county and state crews are plowing roads and spreading a sand mixture. Many roads will remain snow-packed and will not be bare pavement as a result.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 31, 2014 at 10:45 am 503 0

Arlington County courthouse and police headquartersThere will be no parking enforcement the first two days of 2015.

Arlington county offices, including libraries, the DMV select and the Department of Human Services, are closed tomorrow and Friday (Jan. 1-2), and parking enforcement officers will also be taking the day off.

The Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts all close at noon today (Wednesday) and are closed the rest of the week. Arlington Public Schools won’t reopen until Monday, Jan. 5.

In addition to the courts, offices and schools, Arlington’s community centers will close at 5:00 p.m. tonight and not reopen until Saturday. The grounds of the parks will remain open, but all parks programming is cancelled.

Like last week, there will be no trash collection on Thursday, and those with Thursday curbside collection should leave their bins at the side of road by 6:00 a.m. on Friday, to be collected with the Friday routes. Some collection may bleed into Saturday, the county says.

Only ART buses 41 and 51 will be operating on New Year’s Day, on their Sunday schedules. Along with 41 and 51, routes 51, 77 and 87 will also operate on Sunday schedules on Friday.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 23, 2014 at 10:30 am 584 0

Inflatable Christmas decorations at a home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhoodMost offices and facilities of the Arlington County government will be open tomorrow during Christmas Eve, but will then close until Monday, Dec. 29.

All of the courts in the Arlington County Justice Center will be closed tomorrow, Dec. 24, and the DMV select will close tomorrow at noon.

Arlington Public Schools will also be closed on Dec. 24, and students won’t return to school until Monday, Jan. 5.

All county community centers and recreational classes are cancelled for Christmas and the day after, but parks grounds remain open at normal hours.

Parking will not be enforced on Dec. 25 or Dec. 26.

Those with Thursday trash and recycling collection will have their scheduled pushed back a day, and should put their cans on the side of the road by 6:00 a.m. on Friday. Those with Friday pickup will be on their normal schedule in all likelihood — because of the added workload, some houses might not see their trash picked up until 5:00 p.m. Saturday, according to the county.

Only ART buses 41 and 51 will be operating on Christmas Day, on their Sunday schedules. Along with 41 and 51, routes 51, 77 and 87 will also operate on Sunday schedules on friday.

There will be no parking enforcement on either day. Regular services and schedules resume on Saturday, and offices will reopen on Monday.

Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 22, 2014 at 10:30 am 997 0

Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins (photo courtesy Arlington County)Victor Hoskins will be Arlington’s new economic development director starting on Jan. 20, and he will be the head of his third D.C. area economic development department within a year.

Hoskins was announced Friday afternoon as the successor to lead Arlington Economic Development after former director Terry Holzhiemer died of a heart attack in March. Holzheimer had led the department since 2005. Cindy Richmond has been serving as acting AED director in the interim.

Hoskins comes to Arlington after serving as Prince George’s County, Md.’s deputy chief administrative officer for Economic Development and Public Infrastructure. Hoskins started in that position on June 16 this year. Before working for Prince George’s, he was D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development from 2011 to earlier this year.

“Victor will bring a wealth of experience, creativity and dynamism to our team. He will be leading AED at a time of increased challenges and opportunities for Arlington,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release.

Hoskins has a long track record of working in D.C. and Maryland in both housing and economic development, serving as former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s cabinet secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development. From 2009-2011, he was the vice president of Quadel Consulting, a District-based affordable housing consulting and training firm.

“I’m excited to join the Arlington team, and look forward to marketing a County known across the nation as a leader in transit-oriented, sustainable development,” Hoskins said in a statement. “I can’t wait to be a part of this innovative government that holds itself to the highest ethical standards and promotes a healthy work-life balance.”

When Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker hired Hoskins in the spring, he told the Washington Post Hoskins “is someone who is known in the region as a person who is getting things done.”

Photo courtesy Arlington County

by Ethan Rothstein — December 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm 832 0

arlington-va-logoArlington has hired a former Department of Homeland Security official as a deputy county manager in charge of the Department of Environmental Services.

Carol Mitten most recently served as Executive Director for Urban Affairs and Headquarters Consolidation at Homeland Security, before which she was chief of the Land Resources Program Center for the National Capital Region at the National Park Service, according to the county’s press release.

“I am thrilled to have Carol join my team,” Donnellan said in the release. “She brings broad and deep experience, as well as a fresh perspective.”

Mitten will oversee Arlington’s largest department, which deals with everything from the county’s roads and waste collection to local transit and parking. She starts work on Jan. 5.

Mitten will be Donnellan’s second deputy county manager, joining Mark Schwartz, who’s been Donnellan’s second-in-command since 2010. Donnellan also employs six assistant county managers among her staff.

Mitten’s experience in local government came across the river, while serving on the District’s Zoning Commission.

“While working in D.C. government, I came to deeply appreciate the positive impact that local government can have on the lives of our community,” Mitten said in the release. “This is where I developed my passion for local government, and I’m so pleased to be joining the Arlington team.”

Arlington’s full announcement of Mitten’s hiring, after the jump: (more…)

by ARLnow.com — December 17, 2014 at 10:45 am 2,345 0

Arlington County has been trying to figure out how to better reach out to the hordes of young apartment-dwellers who make up a significant portion of the county’s population, but who are usually nowhere to be found during community meetings.

“It’s not always easy to reach certain parts of the community,” Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh says in a new county-produced video (above). “We’ve tried several methods over the years — community meetings in schools, in community centers — and typically the same people would come out each time. So what we decided we needed to do was try something different.”

To help design events and services tailored to the elusive mid-20s to mid-30s professional set — dubbed “Metro Renters” — county staff is taking an approach called “Design Thinking,” which builds a needs profile through interviews with members of a given group.

“Design Thinking is a system of methods and processes that uses a designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with what is feasible and viable,” explains Dept. of Environmental Services program manager Joan Kelsch.

Via interviews, the county developed the following profile of “Metro Renters.”

  • They want their resources to be quick and convenient and are willing to pay top dollar if it fulfills their needs in a hurry
  • They’re tech savvy and they can’t function without their mobile devices
  • They’re highly educated with varied reading interests
  • They listen to NPR on weekday mornings and track the news online all day
  • They work hard and play hard
  • Hanging out with friends is important
  • They like good food
  • Many don’t have cars so location is important
  • They enjoy a quiet, relaxing environment for conversation with a friend
  • Many are also interested in meeting potential life partners, so activities and places that give them something to do where they can meet new people with common interests are good
  • They consider themselves hard working and busy people without a lot of free time, so anything they attend should have an immediate impact on their lives or otherwise be important to them

If you have first-hand familiarity with the “Metro Renter” set, how would you grade the county’s job of producing a broadly accurate profile of the average 25-35 year old Metro corridor renter in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com — December 17, 2014 at 9:00 am 1,646 0

Kirkwood Road near Clarendon (Flickr pool photo by Alves Family)

HOT Lane Lawsuit May Haunt County — At a time when the state is studying HOT lanes and other possible changes to I-66 inside the Beltway, Arlington County’s past actions may come back to haunt it. County officials “burned some bridges” when they filed a lawsuit against VDOT in 2009 to block HOT lanes on I-395. The county has also lost some regional credibility by abruptly canceling the streetcar project. Efforts by Arlington to oppose any changes on I-66, therefore, may fall on deaf ears. [InsideNova]

Incubator Launches in Crystal City — Eastern Foundry, a “veteran-owned government technology and innovation incubator,” celebrated its launch in Crystal City yesterday. The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear. [PR Web]

Man Arrested for Arlington Attack — Fairfax County Police have arrested a man wanted for allegedly attacking his ex-wife’s boyfriend in Arlington. In the June 15 attack on Columbia Pike, police say Edwin Patino-Medina ripped two necklaces off the boyfriend’s neck then tried to run him over with a car. [WUSA 9]

Menorah Lighting Tonight — Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Tonight, in the park next to the Clarendon Metro station, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington will hold a menorah lighting and community celebration. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and features a “giant 6 foot menorah” plus music, potato latkes, chocolate gelt and “dreidels for all.” Tomorrow, the group will hold its annual Chanukah on Ice event at the Pentagon Row ice rink.

Flickr pool photo by Alves Family

by ARLnow.com — December 3, 2014 at 9:10 am 1,198 0

A building in the midst of being torn down on a rainy day in Rosslyn

Civ Fed: Start Over on ‘Public Land’ Process — The Arlington Civic Federation voted last night for a resolution calling on Arlington County to restart its “Public Land for Public Good” affordable housing initiative. The compromise measure called for a more robust community process to discuss the idea of using publicly-owned land to build affordable housing facilities. The county’s Long Range Planning Committee has made a similar recommendation, as we reported yesterday. [InsideNova]

Stagnant Assessments Poses Challenge — Stagnant real estate assessments are causing problems for local governments around the D.C. region. In Fairfax County, it’s contributing to a $173 million budget gap. Arlington has fared better, thanks to its location adjacent to the District and the higher proportion of commercial real estate in the county (commercial property owners pay about half of all county taxes). Still, the poor state of the regional office market means that localities can’t rely on a rise in commercial property taxes to bail out homeowners. The choice for local governments, says a George Mason University study, is now to raise taxes on homeowners, cut spending or both. [Washington Post]

GW Parkway Reopens After Sinkhole Repairs — The southbound lanes of the GW Parkway reopened early this morning after repairs were made to a large sinkhole that formed between Spout Run and Route 123.

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